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What's your personality type?

What’s your personality type?

Have you been Myers-Brigged? I first heard of this “personality inventory” test in a psychology course at university, and first encountered it in the real world in my late twenties when working at a high-tech PR agency in London. The firm used various Myers-Brigg questionnaires during recruitment and for planning team and management structures. (As do a huge number of Fortune 500 companies.)

For the uninitiated, Myers-Brigg – or the Myer-Brigg Type Indicator (MBTI), to give it its full, copyrighted name – is based on Jungian theories of psychological type. The idea is that there are four main character trait continuums, or “dichotomies” between opposite poles, that define us all:

  1. Extraversion —— Introversion: which is about the direction of our personal expression, either externally with the world or internally
  2. Sensing —— iNtuition: which is about how we perceive and gather information
  3. Thinking —— Feeling: how we process information and whether our processing is influenced more by logic or be feeling
  4. Judging —— Perceiving: how we implement the information, i.e. we stick to our plans or we keep exploring

Most of us have elements of all eight poles, but we lean one way or another. The result is sixteen different personality types that reflect all possible combinations of those leanings, and that take their names from the first letters of each pole (or in the case of iNtuition, the second letter, as Introversion stole the first i).

There are 16 different personality types

There are 16 different personality types

In addition, it’s likely that one of the four dichotomies will be most dominant in an individual. So from the midpoint of zero, you could be anywhere from 1 to 100% leaning towards one point or the other.

I’m an ENFJ (as I have learned for this blog – the test results from my pre-theatre, tech PR days were lost in the mists of time), and for the first two dichotomies, my pole leanings are relatively slight, much higher for the third and through the roof for the fourth. This is pretty accurate. As my partner Peter will attest, my ability to – methodically, doggedly – stick to a plan is a defining trait.

I’m at a professional crossroads at the moment so re-acquainting myself with my personality type and its implications has been extremely useful for planning my next steps, but really understanding yourself better is always useful, isn’t it?

The downside for private individuals, though, is the official Myers-Brigg Type Indicator is exclusively licensed and must be administered by certified practitioners, which makes it expensive. However, I found this handy, free online test inspired by Myers-Brigg at Humanmetrics. Okay, it’s not validated and copyrighted, but it’ll give you a good steer.

It is also possible to take the sanctioned MBTI online through the US-based Center for Applications of Psychological Type. It’ll set you back $175 (or $150 if you’re in the US or Canada), but it includes a detailed assessment report, support materials and an hour’s follow-up phone call with a certified MBTI practitioner.

And, if money’s no object or you’re considering it for your organisation check out the extensive wares available via CPP, the exclusive publisher of MBTI materials, and their European distributors, OPP in Oxford.

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